When you consider all those plastic toothbrushes, laminate toothpaste tubes and nylon dental floss going to landfill, switching to zero waste dental care can be a great way to make a positive impact.
When you brush your teeth each morning, your mind is probably wandering a little. Do I have enough milk left for my cereal? Why do my pyjamas even need pockets? Chances are you're not thinking about waste -and yet toothbrushes are a massive contributor to landfills:
Around 3.5 billion toothbrushes are sold worldwide each year. Made of polypropylene and nylon, they end up in landfill or oceans.
Dentists recommend that you replace your toothbrush every 3 months - around 300 brushes of waste in a lifetime! Centuries after you're gone, these plastic toothbrushes will still be here - washed up on a beach, eaten by an albatross, or buried deep in a landfill.
So the first step towards zero waste dental care is switching out your plastic toothbrush for compostable bamboo - a no-brainer.
ABOVE: A BAMBOO TOOTHBRUSH WILL DECOMPOSE NATURALLY, UNLIKE PLASTIC
You have to wonder who came up with the bright idea of putting microbeads - tiny bits of plastic - in our toothpaste, facewash, shower gels and cosmetics.
Microbeads are a disaster for our marine life - they end up in our rivers, lakes and oceans. Small fish mistake them for food and gobble them up - which sends them up the food chain to your plate of fish and chips.
Former President Obama signed the Micro-Bead Free Waters Act in 2015, and other countries started to follow. In January 2018, the UK banned microplastics in “wash-off” cosmetics (excluding make-up and sunscreen). It's only a small step, but it shows that public pressure can make a difference.
So the good news is, your toothpaste is now plastic-free. But it doesn’t end there: toothpaste tubes are almost impossible to recycle. They’re made from plastic and aluminium fused together - once these guys get together it’s very difficult to separate them. If you really want to go zero waste with your dental care, consider switching to a natural alternative.
FLOSS AND MOUTHWASH
Dental floss is made of nylon, not to mention the plastic containers they come in. Since floss is so small and light, it often avoids landfill and ends up being washed into the oceans. Unfortunately floss is designed not to break, creating a nightmare situation when it wraps itself round marine life. Try a vegan compostable version, made of corn starch, in a recyclable glass container.
ABOVE: WHY USE NYLON? THERE ARE NATURAL AND COMPOSTABLE ALTERNATIVES FOR DENTAL FLOSS
Commercial mouthwashes can be extremely harsh, and make your tooth issues even worse. Here's a fun fact - Listerine was originally sold as a floor cleaner and a cure for gonorrhea. Why is that somehow not surprising? If you need a little extra freshness, there are gentle plastic-free alternatives that are much better for you.
Keen to try a zero waste dental care routine? Check out our dental care collection and get started!